Friday, May 25, 2018
Bridge to Reconciliation
In the 1990's a Roman Catholic priest in the war-ravaged city of Sarajevo, Father Ivo Markovic, was faced with a dilemma. His congregation was approaching Easter but there weren't enough choir members left for the music of the season. Marcovic had courageously worked for reconciliation during the war so he proposed creating a choir which would be multi-faith and multi-ethnic despite the antagonism between groups which had led to the destruction of the beautiful city.
Not surprisingly his congregation resisted but Markovic persisted, recruiting choristers who were Muslims and Jews and Eastern Orthodox. The choir they formed would sing music from all of their traditions although even they were sometimes reluctant to engage in the music of their former enemies. They called the choir, Pontanima: “Pont” – meaning bridge and “Anima” – meaning soul. The music Father Markovic said, was to be a “Bridge among souls.”
As one writer put has put it, each tradition carried its own strength. There are the tender words and music of Islam and the playful dance of Jewish music. When they sing Eastern Orthodox hymns it was, he said, as if “we were angels.” Orthodox Christian music richly acknowledges God’s presence on earth. Rather than meeting to talk about peace or how to live together, Father Markovic encouraged the people in his choir to live the dialogue and live ecumenism in their singing together.
Twenty years later the choir flourishes and they have performed more than 400 times in various countries. Soon they will tour several cities in Great Britain.
For me this is a heartening story, good news and Good News.